The investigation into a Philly police officer who shot an unarmed man last year has been sent back from state prosecutors to the Philadelphia DA's office.
Ex-officer Ryan Pownall's shooting of David Jones after a traffic stop was one of the most controversial in recent years in Philly, leading to multiple protests around the city.
Now it will be returned to be investigated by the city's new DA, Larry Krasner, whose campaign was powered in part by his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The previous District Attorney indicated that there was a personal conflict with the office handling the case and referred it to the Attorney General. Since the previous D.A. is no longer in office, the AG’s office sent the case back to the District Attorney’s Office," Krasner's office said in a statement. "The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will now consider the evidence in this case and make a determination based on the facts. ... We are unable to provide further detail because it is our policy to not comment on an ongoing investigation."
Pownall was fired from the Philadelphia Police Department in September for "violating departmental policy" when he fatally shot dirt biker David Jones, 31, after a traffic stop.
Jones was armed with an illegal gun in his waistband when Pownall, who was transporting witnesses to be interviewed at the time, pulled him over near Hunting Park and Whitaker avenues on June 9 and began to search him, leading to a scuffle.
But police commissioner Richard Ross said at a press conference three months later that investigators from the Officer Involved Shooting Unit found that Jones dropped the gun at this feet before running away on foot, when Pownall, a 12-year veteran with the 15th District, fatally shot him.
“The investigation into the shooting death of David Jones was originally handled by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office,” said Joe Grace, spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “When District Attorney Kelley Hodge took office, she referred the case to the Office of Attorney General because she had a personal conflict. Since she is no longer in office, that personal conflict no longer exists. Accordingly, consistent with the Commonwealth Attorneys Act and our preference for local matters to be handled by local officials, the Attorney General has returned the case to District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office to resume the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office investigation.”
Pownall was fired by Commissioner Richard Ross in September, but that's not necessarily the last word.
He could have the opportunity to seek his job back through the arbitration process after all criminal proceedings in the case are closed.
Tough talk on police shootings
Krasner has previously said the Philly DA's office exhibited a clear "bias" in the handling of cases involving officers.
Krasner made the comments during a talk at the Free Library earlier this month, after mentioning that none of 50 fatal police shootings since 2010 led to charges:
"This ain’t fair, this is biased," Krasner said, according to Philly.com.